"Local not Universal" Church Series #4
That the church is the bride of Christ is never so stated in words in the Bible. It is, however, intimated in Eph. 5:27: "That he might present it to himself a glorious church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. We have previously called attention and do so again to the fact that "the church" in the New Testament is a local visible assembly. Christ is now doing His work through local visible assemblies local bodies of Christ and the consummation will be one great, grand, glorious and glorified church (a local visible assembly) in heaven as a result primarily of the work of local visible churches on earth. Ephesians 5:27 speaks of a future event, that of the glorified church (assembly) gathered in heaven and then presented to Christ as His bride.
The Book of Revelation also speaks prophetically of this consummating act. In Rev. 19: 7-9 we read. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. "
Here in Revelation 19 we note several significant facts. First, Christ's marriage-mate is not called a bride but "his wife". However, the appointments are of a marriage and of a pure mate adorned in white so every indication is of a bride as also "the marriage supper" indicates. Again, the synonym used for "wife" is seen to be not "church" but "saints." That is, the saints comprise the "wife" or "bride'' of Christ at the marriage supper.
But most important of all in this passage is the fact that the marriage supper of Christ does not take place until RIGHT IMMEDIATELY before Christ's return in fiery judgment with His saints. Rev. 19: 7-10.
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. " II Thess. 1:7-10
"To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. " I Thess. 3:13 The import of this is that though certainly through salvation Christ's wife (bride) is in the process of being composed, it will not be until right at the end of the Tribulation period that the wife (bride) will be completed and presented to Christ. Quite likely this is because there will be Tribulation saints continually saved throughout the Tribulation period and that the wife (bride) will not be ready for presentation at the marriage supper until the last one is saved just immediately prior to Christ's visible return in flaming judgment for the overthrow of the AntiChrist and all his hosts.
Thus to speak of "the bride of Christ as at the present time to be equated with an ''invisible universal church" is wrong for several reasons.
That the wife (bride) of Christ can be equated with the GLORIFIED (visible and local) church (assembly) Eph. 5:27 at its CONSUMMATION time -- at the end of the Tribulation period, we would heartily agree. But that future church (assembly) or wife (bride) from the Scriptural point of
view should not be conceived of as now in existence. Its actuality as a glorified assembly and as a wife (bride) awaits its presentation to Christ as a unit. What an event that will be !
1. The Scriptures do not so teach.
2. There is no such thing as an invisible church for the glorified church will bc very local and visible in heaven.
3. The wife (bride) is only in process of composition and will not be finalized as the wife (bride) until at the end of the Tribulation period.